Raw Awakening 3

Global Culinary Icon Debuts Crudo

New York. Paris. San Francisco. And now, Carmel Valley. Foodies have long traveled the world in search of innovative culinary delights. With the debut of Crudo by Pascal Lorange, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine from one of the world’s most renowned chefs can be savored much closer home.

Crudo (which means raw in Italian and Spanish) is physically situated among retail outlets at The Village at the new Pacific Highlands Ranch community, but is conceptually a world apart. The second you enter the restaurant it is clear this is no ordinary dining experience. Hues of white and orange define the decor as well as an abundance of natural light and the crisp scents of rosemary, lemon and kumquats. Bell peppers are perfectly situated on white square shelves while paintings are adorned with the restaurant’s signature spice blends.

But Lorange’s true flair for uniting global sophistication with an elegantly informal style is most apparent in the food itself. This founder and executive chef has cooked in some of Europe’s finest Michelin-starred restaurants as well as for international celebrities like Julio Iglesias, Oscar de la Renta and Princess Stephanie of Monaco. Now, he has created a menu that mixes his European training and experience with flavors from around the world, blending traditional cuisine from the Mediterranean with Japanese-inspired infusions. Thanks to the open kitchen design, lucky diners can even see this master chef in culinary action.

“I am excited to introduce new creative, fresh and affordable dishes to the neighborhood,” says Belgian-born Lorange, who splits his time between New York and his home in Carmel Valley. “My dream was to create my own namesake restaurant in a lively, welcoming environment designed for today’s modern families. Now, thanks to the incredible support of our entire community, that dream has materialized.”

While some culinary food critics were nothing less than surprised when Lorange announced his location in a strip mall, the restaurant’s concept was specifically designed to complement the Southern California lifestyle. For one, Crudo celebrates the light and healthy flavors of the West Coast (think seafood and fresh produce) and mixes them with the spices and food preparation techniques of Asian cultures.

Crudo doesn’t require the requisite three-hour- minimum dining experience other culinary establishments are known for either. Lorange is well aware that today’s lifestyles can be quite hectic. Meals at Crudo are designed to last an hour, without a white tablecloth in sight. The restaurant seats up to 180 guests at tables and at the square, marble-topped bar, which serves as a striking centerpiece and communal gathering spot.

To take full advantage of Southern California’s beautiful, year-round weather, Crudo offers an indoor/outdoor dining experience. Bi-fold glass doors open to an outdoor shaded patio with couches, fire tables, heat lamps and dining tables. A private dining room with access to its own outdoor space is available for private events, and catering is also offered.

For those who love to wine and dine, Lorange has personally curated an extensive wine selection with just the perfect wine from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and California to complement every menu offering.

Lorange is a father to a young son, and he went above and beyond to make sure his restaurant was family friendly. Children are presented with a raw cookie dough animal when they arrive, which they can decorate with sprinkles and other edibles. Their creation is then baked and served after their meal. (Hint for kids: order the porcupine mac-n- cheese!)

Interested in learning from the master chef himself? Lorange hosts two-hour cooking classes at Crudo twice a month. The cost is $120 per person, which includes a welcome drink and cooking demonstration that showcases three Crudo menu offerings. Guests are then invited to enjoy the dishes with a glass of wine or nonalcoholic beverage of their choice. Bon Appétit!